Members of the Save Our Holmes environmental conservation organization may be on the verge of celebrating success after years of battling for the forested slopes above Youbou and Meade Creek to remain intact.
In a media release March 25, Mosaic Forest Management, the largest private landowner in the province — and owner of the slope above the Cowichan Lake communities, which includes Mount Holmes — has announced it intends to defer 40,000 hectares (400 square kilometres) of its old growth and older second-growth forests from logging for the next 25 years through a carbon credit program, potentially including Mount Holmes.
“These lands include dozens of hard-fought, contentious old-growth and mature forests on Vancouver Island and elsewhere that conservationists have been working to protect,” said the release.
“The company’s BigCoast Carbon Credits program will set aside the stands via a carbon credits program which will be certified under the Verified Carbon Standard. The company is expecting several hundred million dollars in carbon offsets funding over the next 25 years that will be equivalent to or exceed what their logging revenues would’ve been from logging these stands.”
The Save Our Holmes Society was formed to stand in opposition of logging on Mount Holmes and Mount Good above the communities of Youbou and Meade Creek. Society president Karen Deck isn’t counting her chickens just yet.
“I have seen articles where our neighbourhood forest has been mentioned, but as official as they may seem, they are not written by someone from Mosaic,” she cautioned. “It’s true that our efforts over the last five years have been concentrated on finding ways to protect the watersheds, preserve fish and wildlife habitat and prevent floods and slides on Mounts Holmes and Good. I’d be happy for any community benefitting from such a deferral and certainly hope that we’re one of them.”
Along with the slope above Youbou and Mount Holmes, protected areas may include: the McLaughlin Ridge, Cameron Valley Firebreak, Cathedral Grove Canyon, lands adjacent to MacMillan Provincial Park (Cathedral Grove) and Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park near Port Alberni; key ancient spruce stands in the Lower Gordon Valley and San Juan Valleys near Port Renfrew and old-growth along the Sooke River as well as hundreds of other stands.
“We’ve lost a lot of important old-growth on Mosaic lands over the years but this new initiative brings a vital pause for the remaining stands while we continue to secure a permanent legislated solution via potential Indigenous Protected Areas and other initiatives,” said Ancient Forest Alliance co-founder TJ Watt. “For now, the 25 year deferral period lets us and many others breathe a huge sigh of relief that these incredible forests won’t be cut.”